On 7 July, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel organised a structured dialogue on European education technology (EdTech), laying the foundations for a long-term cooperation with the fast growing EdTech sector.
The event brought together leading European EdTech representatives, covering all education and training sectors and a variety of technology solutions from language learning, digital education platforms, learning and application management systems, to innovative forms of teaching coding and STEM to children. The Commissioner spoke to founders and leaders of E-Civis, Robo Wunderkind, Ucha.se, BOOKR Kids, LEGO Education, Speexx, WeSchool, DreamApply!, Brainly, Open Classrooms and Reaktor Education.
The roundtable discussed how COVID-19 crisis affected the EdTech sector and how EdTech can continue growing and contribute to the emerging European digital education ecosystem. It also served as an opportunity for the EdTech sector to discuss how they can cooperate with the EU to establish their place in the ecosystem.
The discussion was warmly welcomed by European EdTech. Key messages included the unprecedented acceleration of digitalisation in education leading to ‘a paradigm shift’. The crisis led many EdTech companies to join forces with public authorities, supporting teacher training and the provision of digital education content. As a particular challenge they shared the need to overcome socio-economic divides, develop 21st century skills and boost teacher training in innovative methods. Many of these developments cannot be turned back, they stressed.
Working together towards a high-performing digital education ecosystem
EdTech companies present recognised the important role the EU could play in supporting innovation in education and helping the sector to develop its place in the European digital education ecosystem. Among the common areas for future collaboration identified were the need for scalability of European education solutions, the importance of high quality European digital education content and development of digital skills and competences for all, including teachers. The work of the Commission on micro-credentials and individual learning accounts was also welcomed by the sector, who called for further cooperation and synergies at EU level in the area.
The Roundtable discussion concluded with Commissioner Gabriel stating her commitment to continue the exchange with European EdTech in the long term. The Commissioner invited the participants to follow-up on the discussion in a second Roundtable later this year, where concrete ideas for working together on contributing to theEuropean digital education ecosystem can be put forward.
The event contributed to the objectives of the Digital Education Action Plan 2021-2027 and in particular to its first priority - the development of a high-performing digital education ecosystem.
The European EdTech sector is playing an increasingly important role in driving forward digital transformation in Europe covering all education, training sectors, and offering a myriad of services such as online learning platforms and language learning, learning management systems and STEM labs.
According to estimates, the sector saw a 15% increase on investments in 2021 and global investments are expected to reach over $87 billion in the upcoming decade. Notwithstanding, the sector is heavily fragmented across the European Union with many small players and few companies playing a global role. In addition, the crisis and increased use of digital technologies in education and learning brought multiple challenges related to the use of EdTech, which will affect the development of the sector and its role in the digital education ecosystem in Europe.